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Need ideas FAST about teen sneaking out at night...

post #1 of 18
Thread Starter 
Ok, I need some quick advice if you've got any. My neighbor has a 14yr old daughter, the oldest of 4 girls. We live in a poor, dangerous urban area and my neighbor recently discovered that her 14yr old has been sneaking out at night to go see one of the neighbor boys. The neighbor boy is not an ok person for her to be with & his family is full of drugs & gang activity. He has a 25yr old older brother who lives at home as well. Right now the 14yr old does not know that her mom knows she has been sneaking out, and mom is not sure how to proceed. The 14 yr old has been a previously well-behaved, joyful girl, suddenly turned sullen and angry. My neighbor is sure that her daughter will not be honest about where she has been if she confronts her now. She is going to try to catch her in the act tonight...but isn't sure what to do next.

Any ideas? I will check in again later if you all have questions & need more info to give good advice...

Thanks a bunch. This is a girl I care about deeply. She was the ring-bearer in my wedding, and I was recently considering having her babysit my 2yr old. I may be taking her shopping for a formal gown for homecoming tomorrow, too, if anybody has any ideas about what I could do.
post #2 of 18
Oh, boy.

I did this for years, starting at about 13, until I was at least 16 or 17. Never got caught. Did get into some sticky situations... and I was in a very safe rural area with reasonably nice boys.

I would suggest mom and dad (if dad's around, I wasn't sure from your post) sit down with her alone and say that they know she has been sneaking out. Outline the reasons it's unsafe, and lay down the law: no more seeing this boy, no more sneaking out, and whatever the consequences are. Grounding, I guess, or whatever kinds of punishment they think appropriate. They might consider having her sign a contract with them to the effect that if she is caught sneaking out or with this boy, certain privilages will be lost.

Keeping her from doing it might be tougher... change her sleeping arrangements? Motion-sensing lights? If she is going out her own bedroom window they might consider moving an extra bed in so mom can sleep in the same room with her until this has been resolved.

This sounds like one of those things that they should react very, very strongly to - in a year or two she will be harder to discipline and of course the consequences of her behavior are potentially really, really bad.

I'm sorry.
post #3 of 18
I don't know that this is a good idea, but if this was my 14 year old sneaking out at night, I would make her do a 1 page research paper on Leslie Mahaffy, and why it's not a good idea to sneak out of the house.
(Leslie was a girl my age who at 14 was abducted while she was out of the house late at night)
post #4 of 18
The 14 yr old has been a previously well-behaved, joyful girl, suddenly turned sullen and angry.
This sounds to me that at the very least she is depressed and it sounds even more like she is doing drugs. Sudden change in attitude and actions in a negative way is the first sign. I would suggest the mom start spending more time with her and communicate with her as much as possible. Even if the girl shuts her out she needs to be persistant and also tell her how much she is loved. Scary! I hope she gets through to her.
post #5 of 18
you know, I did this alot, too. I can't say that any parent can CONTROL their kids or forbid them to see someone, because they will always find a way and you end up in a major power struggle with nobody being happy. it's an ugly way to live, believe me - I know from my own teen years.

I started getting like this when I was 15 and my parents assumed drugs, but it wasn't. just a boy that I was spending every night with - no sleep, cynical attitude towards my parents and a loathing for adults.

I agree about honest communication. Maybe even a counselor or mediator with the family. Threats and attempts to control will only backfire.
post #6 of 18
Is she going out the window or a door? When I was sneaking out, my dad remedied that by parking the lawnmower under my window. I landed on it, he immediately heard me, and drug me home by my ear. To this day I don't know if that lawnmower was there on purpose or not. The lawnmower probably isn't the safest thing, but maybe one of those big rolls of packaging bubble that pop? If the popping doesn't wake her up the giggling surely will.
post #7 of 18
Thread Starter 
To answer a couple of questions: The mom in this situation is single. She adopted all 4 of her girls (not sure if that's relevent to the situation). Drugs are definately a concern considering the family of the boy. I have to say, though, that none of us are actually certain that she is sneaking out to see this particular boy. That's just what her mom suspects. She could be doing a million other things. I agree that attempts to control are a bad idea. On the other hand, it's so dangerous for her to just be roaming around at night. People come here looking for prostitutes. There are drugs dealers & pimps a-plenty. The girl's mom is actually considering sending her to stay with family out of state for a while to get her to a safer place.

I will be going dress shopping with her tomorrow for sure now. My plan is to stick pretty much to dress shopping & lend an ear as much as I can. I'm not supposed to know what's going on. I might mention if she seems sad or depressed. I don't want to push things. We haven't spent time together in a while.
post #8 of 18
Thread Starter 
Oh, and she's sneaking out the door on the ground floor of the house. Everybody sleeps upstairs. So, her mom isn't likely to hear the door. Mom is considering sleeping on the couch downstairs, too.
post #9 of 18
i have to agree with panamamidwife- "I can't say that any parent can CONTROL their kids or forbid them to see someone, because they will always find a way and you end up in a major power struggle with nobody being happy."
i snuck out all the time when i was a teenager. i was in a really safe rural area, with pretty nice boys, and my sister usually came with me, but just think of how worrisome that must be for the parent! i would freak if i found out my (8 month old) son was sneaking out!!!!
i guess communication and a reworking of her boundaries would probably help. . . maybe let the boy come over to her house, try to make friends with him? at least then she'll be semisupervised and safe. and also that kind of takes away the thrill of the whole sneaking out thing, if she is allowed to be with the boy and hang out with him at night at her house. . . i would couple that with consequences if she snuck out again, maybe she has to sleep in her moms room or something.

ETA, just b/c his family/friend background is bad doesnt mean he is bad. my sister's fiancee is an awesome, awesome guy, and he has the worst history you can imagine. maybe its a fluke, but giving the kid the benefit of the doubt might not be a bad idea
post #10 of 18
Before I was born my parents neighbors had a 17 year old daughter- named Rhonda.
They would watch Rhonda pretend to catch the bus- but then get into a car with a boy every morning. They did not say anything to the parents- thinking it was not their concern.
They were concerned about Rhonda- but did not know what to do.
Rhonda went out parking with a guy and never came home. The cars exhaust backed up into the car- and they both died.
My parents have always felt such guilt- if they just would have told her parents that she was sneaking around- maybe she would not have gone that night...
I kow this story is somewhat different- but made me think about- it takes a village to raise a child....
I hope that this mom can handle this situation.
Fourteen is such a hard age....
post #11 of 18
Thread Starter 
Well, I may be going over this morning to mediate a confrontation between mom & daughter. She snuck out again last night. Mom & another neighbor tried to stay up to see if they could catch her, but they fell asleep around 1am...woke up at 3 & she was home, but she had been gone (shoes were moved...mom stuck a paper in the door that had fallen to the floor).

Mom is thinking about not letting daughter go to homecoming since she can't be trusted. Mom called me this morning to see if I think that's a good idea. The truth is that I just don't know. I think I would probably do the same thing, but I don't know if that's the right thing. My DD is only 2. I have a lot of years before I need to think about something like that.

About the boy...he goes to the school where my husband teaches & he's in a lot of trouble. Even if he wasn't, though, the daughter says that he doesn't want to come to their house. Here's a confounding factor: The daughter & her sisters were all adopted from Haiti. In our neighborhood they are identified as "black." Their mom is white. The guy that the daughter wants to hang out with is black. And since she's been hanging out with him she's been saying things to her mom like, "Why would he want to come over here? You're white. He doesn't want to be around you."

Well, thank you all for your ideas. Keep 'em coming. I'll be back again to check in before heading over to their house later.
post #12 of 18
I am thinking this girl is deffinatly having some identity issues. Saying such things to her mother. Being 14 is very hard for a girl, especially when you don't know your "background". Some would think this may not be a factor. But at 14 you want to "find yourself", and being that you dont know anything about your heritage, it makes it a little harder. Cowbells on doors, make great alarms. As do Beer Bottles (or any glass bottle) that will topple and crash is a door is open. For me when I snuck out, it only took a couple nights sleeping behind the garage in the winter to make me stop. I would not recommend this, obviously because of the nieghborhood you have descibed. I would think that counsilling is very imparative. I have seen on talk shows where they make them spend a day with someone who has been in there shoes, with drastic outcomes. You know.. single 16 yr old mothers who were abused. Sometimes, it takes a little reality to open a childs eyes. I know that sounds harsh, but sometimes the "scare tactic" is the only thing that works. Maybe research some of the "crimes" in your area and let her see what really happens after dark. Abucted teens, rape, murder, prostotution, violence. My first thought tho, would deffinatly be individual and family councelling.
post #13 of 18
Thread Starter 
A quick update & a little analysis:

I took her shopping yesterday & we had a great time. I didn't see the sullen, depressed girl that her mom has been describing at all. She was chatty & sweet. It's hard to even imagine her saying all the things she's been saying to her mom...but to be honest I think this is a lot about her mom. Let's see if I can describe this a little...

The mom (L) is very busy. She's always doing favors for other people. Her job is working with international college students & hooking them up with Christian families who can be their friends while they're here. She spends lots of time making dinners, having people over for tea, chatting on the phone, picking people up from the airport, etc, etc... Lots of these things are things that other families should be doing, but L likes to do these things. They give her a great self-esteem boost, and she has a hard time saying no. Consequently the family almost never sits through dinner together without L running off to answer the phone. She leaves her kids with a list of things to do while she runs off to do something & then gets mad when she gets home & nothing is done. Sooooo, the house is a total disaster. The 14yr old (C) is embarrassed for her friends to come over & see the house. Granted, she could help clean the house...but she can't do all the cleaning up after her 3 sisters too (they are 12, 8 & 8).

In L's defense she loves her girls dearly & she is raising them the way she was raised...with lots of guilting & inconsistency. To her credit, she figured out that co-sleeping is one way to cope with the attachment issues that all of her girls have to one degree or another (she adopted each of them around the age of 2, after they had been abandoned & then lived in an orphanage). Most nights find one or all 3 of the younger girls in bed with her. She also discovered early on that spanking was a really bad idea with these girls. It didn't work & the younger two would fiercely fight in each other's defense.

My assessment is that C is lonely. She's looking for attention & approval. She wants to know that she's ok. Her mother is so critical. We brought the dress home last night after shopping. She tried it on & L said, "That's cute. Do you have the appropriate undergarments?" If you could here the tone you would know that the question was quite critical, as if she were accusing her of not knowing that she needed a strapless bra for the dress & then needing to go shopping again before Saturday to get a bra...which involves more of L's time & more money. The thing is, C already knew what kind of bra she needed & had one in her drawer upstairs. She wants her mother's approval desperately, but L grew up with the kind of mother who is afraid to be too affirming because it might make you too proud or something.

So, C is lonely and seeking approval. She mentioned the boy when we were out together...in passing. It was his birthday yesterday. My DH works at the school the boy attends. So, C said she knew this guy who attends school where DH works & wondered if he was in any of DH's classes. DH said he doesn't recognize the name. (DH did the driving yesterday & we all had donuts together after the dress search was done. So, he spent part of the time with us. DH has known C since she was a baby and he used to spend time over at their house when he was in junior high & high school. L is best friends with DH's mom.)

We told C that any time she needed a break from her house or just wanted to chat she could come over to our house (just about 4 houses down the block). We haven't spent a lot of time with her since our DD was born (2.5 years ago). So, it's time for us to be more involved. Looks like we're moving into mentor roles with her. DH is a bit like an uncle for her since he's known her for so long & I actually think that L has been hoping that DH & his brother would be more involved with her kids. She totally welcomed us spending time with C yesterday.

And about the sneaking out...L still has not confronted C & plans to write her thoughts down before saying anything. She may wait until after homecoming on Saturday. C has not been sneaking out on week-nights. So, she is probably safe for the week.

Thanks if you've read this far. Hope this wasn't too much of an analysis.
post #14 of 18
I think you sound about right on your analasis. When I think back.. I used to hang out with the older kids. My mother never really had time for me between work and her acoholic BF. I think I hung out with the older group, for approval from them. Noteably: They were not the RIGHT older crowd for me to be around.. but I felt welcome and wanted. I think any extra time you or DH can spend with this girl is going to be what may help her out. Having someone older to talk to, that isnt your mother. Being she is the oldest, she doesnt have the "older sister" role. I don't know how active Ls family is in thier lives, but it doesnt seem she really has any adult female role models, with her mother working and being so active. Maybe that is really all she needs. Maybe invite her over on a weekend, for a "girls night". Then when you see how she is with the baby.. and if you decide to have her sit once in awhile.. Maybe this "job" of babysitting for you, will help her learn, and keep her busy!! Hooray for you, for wanting and trying to be there for a young girl in need!! And hooray to your DH too for also being there!!
post #15 of 18
I know this isn't the same thing, but it worked for us.

My youngest sister is severely retarded. She would just run off as a kid, no worries about cars or who lived in a particular house, she'd race across streets, run into peoples homes and try on their shoes (haha, not funny when you're chasing her through three or four homes! Esp the family that spoke no english, but that's another story) Anyway, we were desperate. My paretns installed alarms. It was reasonably inexpensive, and if ANYONE opened a door or one of the alarmed windows, a piercing sound that would wake the dead went off. My other sis was in her twenties and would often come home in the wee hours. She would open the door, dash through and whip it shut, but it still was an incredible racket.

Lil sis never got out unannounced again!

Also, my paretns were foster parents to many teens. I know lots of folks here will tell you that they did these things too, and they turned out fine. But the ones who were raped and murdered aren't posting. (one of my foster sis's was raped while out after curfew, small town, nice area) Your friend needs to make a decision, her kids or all that other bull. It's time to step up and do the hard work! Adopting kids is great, but it's important to remember that your are getting DNA and hereditary things different than your own, and that it will require more work ! It's hard to parent a child who can use your color against you!
Mom needs to set rules. The boy comes to the house, or she doesn't get to go out with him. Period. You sneak out, you ABSOLUTELY don't go to homecoming. THis shouldn't be something the mother needs to think about! It should have been clear to both parent and child in advance. If the kid does the wrong thing, she loses something dear to her. If she does well, in school and at home, she gets extra priveledges.

A messy house is not a big deal. Maybe you could suggest a party with the girls inviting their friends. (based on behavior) Then the girls could bewrangled into helping to clean up, and if you were feeling brave you could offer to help. It would give the oldest one a reason to behave...no party if you misbehave.

I'd also spend oodles of time with this kid, as a mom. She needs guidance and love, not to be allowed to push her family away!

post #16 of 18
Dear Midnight, what great friendmentors you and DH are!!!
Isnuck out as a youngteen and badthings happened to me,
but I dontthink direct punishment is the answer either,more time from mom may also be...tricky atthis pointsince kids possibly are wanting to push heraway,neverthe less, thats whatis needed, so I vote for outside intervention (counseling?) and support alongwith more time and genuine effortfrom mom...
and I can tell from whatyou have shared how much she cares,I will have faith thatshe will try,and trying is what ittakes.
14 IS a hard age, as someone said...
post #17 of 18
MidnightCafe, I probably cannot add to the wisdom others have provided. I just want to say that this 14-year-old is very fortunate/blessed that she has you in her life!
post #18 of 18
very late to reply to this, how are things working out now? When my niece was sneaking out at around 13or14 I did catch her and she was sitting in a car a bit down from the driveway. i walked up and opened the door and said what are you doing out here? the cops could come and give you a curfew ticket, then introduced myself to the boy and said come into the house. They came in and I talked about general things asked about his parents and if they knew he was out, turns out the took the family car without permission. Told him to come to the front door next time, we loved our girl and she is important to us. Served them sodas and sandwiches, and she didn't do that for several years until she was around 17.This guy came around for a while earlier though and they went out again when she was older. We also had a teen mom who lived with us for a while and she would have a guy come at about 2AM. then she would be neglecting her baby in the morning because she was up all night fooling around. Talked to her about worthless guys, respect, helped and encouraged her to get her GED. Her own mom just told her she was worthless and stupid. The only way to get her out from under was to help her build self confidence and selfesteem and remind her of her responsibilities to her baby. She did stop having bootycall boyfriends and found her older brother who had escaped the family and went to stay with him.
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